After winning their respective record-breaking fifth and third gold medals, USA Basketball honored Brooklyn Nets striker Kevin Durant and Seattle Storm Guard’s Sue Bird as the US Basketball Athlete of the Year 2021.
– USA basketball (@usabasketball) December 17, 2021
“It’s incredible to be honored that way,” said Durant of USA Basketball’s publication of the awards. “First of all, it’s an honor to represent your country and do it among the best athletes in the world. So many great athletes come through US basketball and national teams in all sports in general, and so it is an honor to be selected as one of the top athletes. I am very grateful for the opportunity and grateful that I received this award. “
For the third time in his Olympic career, Durant was named Male Athlete of the Year, previously winning the award straight in 2010 and then sharing the award with Carmelo Anthony in 2016. Durant set the US Olympic individual competition record for points averaging in 2021, with a team high of 20.7 alongside 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, while 52.9 percent were shot from the field and 37.5 percent from the bow.
Bird and the Women’s National Team made history last summer, winning a seventh consecutive gold medal for the US Women. The most decorated FIBA athlete in history averaged a team high and a tournament with fourth-best 5.8 assists while contributing 5.5 points and scoring 2.5 rebounds per game.
What an honour! This experience is always about more than one player, so a SPECIAL greeting to the comrades and coaches! And of course a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone @usabasketball
🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇 x 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾
Perhaps most importantly@VoltarenGel you are the real MVP 🤩😂 https://t.co/ndIU6ZNFJF
– Sue Bird (@ S10Bird) December 16, 2021
“Gold medal winning is never about a single player, so it would be remiss if I didn’t give most of the credit to my teammates and coaches. Again, I was so lucky to wear this jersey for as long as I did and winning gold in Tokyo couldn’t have been more team effort, “Bird said in a Team USA memo.
Bird, along with US teammate Diana Taurasi, became the only Olympic basketball athlete to ever win five gold medals, an unprecedented run that ended with numerous awards.